You Might Be a Humanist If…

The American Humanist Association tossed out a prompt and they’d like you to finish it:

I’ve never done either of the last two, but the sentiment is there :)

Care to add to the list?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    6 The definition of “humanist” accurately describes you.

  • EcksLibris

    You believe being good to your fellow humans is the highest good there is.

  • http://twitter.com/DragonkinSverd Steven Sword

    I replace “god”  with “Science” all the time, because of this episode of South Park. http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e12-go-god-go

  • uncle k

    You do the right thing when nobody’s looking,  and you know full well that nobody — NOBODY — is looking.

  • Mr

    When someone sneezes, you say “Hail, Sneezer!”

    • HughInAz

      Why do people feel compelled to say something when someone sneezes, anyway? I wish people would just mind their own business if I sneeze.

      • allein

        I feel the same way. You sneeze and someone says “God bless you” and then you’re supposed to thank them for it. It’s just weird. I usually don’t say anything when someone sneezes, but sometimes I feel slightly awkward about it (especially if there’s only two of us in the room). I understand the origins of saying it but I would hope we’d be beyond that by now.

  • Mr

    …you think people are generally an okay lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Morrow/100003475441158 Pat Morrow

    As a humanist I do care if my meat is kosher or halal I don’t support animal cruelty .

    • Ksk6399

      Obviously you’ve never seen a cow slaughtered in the Kosher manner. The live animal is hoisted by it’s hind legs into the air and it’s throat is slit while it struggles and a rabbi recites a prayer. I was given an explanation of this technique by a new veterinarian, who witnessed it as part of her college education.

      • Quintin van Zuijlen

        I think that was what he meant. Had to think it through for a bit but it made sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Morrow/100003475441158 Pat Morrow

         http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-religious-excuse-for-barbarity-2137927.html
        Here you will get where I’m comming from

  • Richard Treitel

    Your think about death and wonder if your children will forgive you.

  • HughInAz

    You appreciate the beauty of this world and don’t think this life is meaningless just because it doesn’t go on for ever.

  • GregFromCos

    You live this life to the fullest, because you’re not just biding your time for a better afterlife.

  • David_inTX

    You judge people by their actions rather than their group membership.

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    You might be a humanist if…

    You have an irrational fear of crackers and grape juice.
    Your other car is an iron chariot.
    You have nightmares about bananas.
    You sometimes wake up in the middle of the night screaming “The burden of proof is on the positive claimant!!!”

    • 3lemenope

      If you own a cookbook entitled “To Serve Man”.

      • 3lemenope

        Oh yeah…um…

        Spoiler Alert.

  • C Peterson

    You might be a humanist if, unlike the American Humanist Association, you actually know what a humanist is!

    • Mwerner

      That is just rediculous.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      They do promote the stereotype that being a humanist is all about being an atheist.

      • Pseudonym

        Tell me about it.

        Free clue for people who think that Humanist is a type of Atheist: check out who signed the first Humanist Manifesto.

        Hell, why not. I’ll quote from Humanist Manifesto II which lays it out pretty clearly:

        Many kinds of humanism exist in the contemporary world. The varieties
        and emphases of naturalistic humanism include “scientific,” “ethical,”
        “democratic,” “religious,” and “Marxist” humanism. Free thought,
        atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, deism, rationalism, ethical culture,
        and liberal religion all claim to be heir to the humanist tradition.
        Humanism traces its roots from ancient China, classical Greece and Rome,
        through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, to the scientific
        revolution of the modern world. But views that merely reject theism are
        not equivalent to humanism. They lack commitment to the positive belief
        in the possibilities of human progress and to the values central to it.
        Many within religious groups, believing in the future of humanism, now
        claim humanist credentials. Humanism is an ethical process through which
        we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic
        personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or
        their mere negation.

        If you don’t agree with that, you might not be a Humanist.

  • Deven Kale

    I guess I’m not a Humanist. I don’t say anything when someone sneezes, because both “bless you” and “gesundheit” are based on the myth that your soul could leave your body when you sneeze. It’s along the lines of “good luck” for your soul.

    I would replace that one with, “You recognize that morality comes from within, and that’s not a bad thing.”

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Ah yes, because wishing someone health when they express a symptom of many a disease clearly has to do with their soul coming our of their nose. Learn German.

      • Deven Kale

        Ich habe vier jahren von deutsche  im schul gelernt. Ich spreche und verstehe Deutsch fur mich gut genug. Aber hat es zwolf jahren aus schule for mich gewesen, so ich am meiste davon leider vergessen haben. Noch kann ich viel verstehen.

        In other words, I know enough of German to understand that “Gesundheit”s semi-literal translation actually means “good health.” What I’m talking about is the reason behind the statement. The history of “gesundheit” is the same as that of “bless you,” to protect the soul of the person who sneezed.

        Maybe before you tell somebody they’re wrong, it would be good to first check online if they are. Even a cursory web-search would have given you enough confirmation as to the history of the term.

        • C Peterson

          That etymological theory is anecdotal at best. It seems far more likely that the various responses to sneezing… which in most languages are variations on wishes for good health… simply come from the fact that a sneeze once represented an early symptom of something potentially fatal. To offer a wish for health, or ask for the blessing of a god, makes perfect sense in that context.

          In any case, however, that context no longer exists. I sincerely doubt that anybody who says “gesundheit” is actually making a statement about your soul, and only a small percentage of those who say “bless you” are actually invoking any god at all.

          • Deven Kale

             With a bit more research, it turns out that you’re right. The soul hypothesis definitely seems more questionable than I thought. I apologize for my stubbornness on the topic.

            On the plus side, I now have something to say to people when they sneeze again. It’s especially good since more than a few people have gotten upset when I didn’t say anything at all. I’ll never understand that, but hey, people do weird things.

        • Quintin

          I just so happen to have been learning German for the past four years too, and I’m on my fifth now. I’ve also had eighteen years of Dutch behind me, which happens to use the same expression.

          In any case, just saying “go research” is not sufficient source for a claim so heavily disputed as yours. I actually did. All I found out is that about half of all languages use a similar expression.

          In any case, what it means today is “I wish you health”,and if you don’t like that I guess you wouldn’t mind if I wished you be sick.

          • Mairianna

             Anns a Gaidhlig:  Slante Mhath!  (Pronounced “slan-cha vah.) In the Gaelic, it means “good health”.  You can say it when someone sneezes or when you’re hoisting a drink!

    • C Peterson

      Do you also refuse to say “good-bye” because it’s just a contraction of “God be with you”?

      A response to somebody sneezing is simply a cultural convention. You can choose not to participate, but it sets you outside your culture. “Gesundheit” just means “health”, a common response to sneezing in many languages. That’s not surprising, given that it wasn’t that long ago that a sneeze might genuinely presage an oncoming deadly illness. No doubt, the origins of “bless you” are similar.

      I like “gesundheit” as a response to sneezes- it allows me to avoid any religious or even supernatural reference, and it’s a fun word to an English speaker. But even in the case of those who say “bless you” or “God bless you”, in most cases their exclamation is just a programmed response. Many atheists say it, I’m sure, simply because it was the standard response they grew up with. It’s really not worth reading too much into it.

      (BTW, I used to live in Bavaria, and a popular response to a second sneeze was Schlankheit!, meaning “thinness”, usually in the sense of female body image. That’s either amusing or a bit morbid, depending on the origins of the usage.)

      • Deven Kale

        “Do you also refuse to say “good-bye” because it’s just a contraction of ‘God be with you’?”

        I generally don’t say good-bye, actually, but that has nothing to do with why. It’s just because good-bye seems like such a formal thing. I generally stick with the more informal farewells such as “later,”  “bubbye,” or “see-ya.”

        Knowing the history of good-bye will now make me even less likely to use it in the future though, so I guess the short answer to your question is “yes”. ;)

  • Keulan

    I usually don’t say anything when someone sneezes. 2-4 I generally do, except thanking the Big Bang since that’s kinda silly. Instead of thanking imaginary gods when something good happens, I try to thank the people responsible if possible.

  • Greisha

    My wife taught her coworkers Russian greeting when somebody sneezes, “Be healthy”.  They just don’t know it is Humanists propaganda.

    • se habla espol

       I (try to) teach people that gesundheit, according to my freshman German, literally translates to “healthiness”.
      In detail: gesund is translates as “healthy”; -heit translates as “-ness”.

      • Michael

        When I was in Germany people thought it was funny to say geburtstag when someone sneezed. Sadly it stuck.

        (tr. Happy Birthday)

    • MariaO

      In Sweden we use the latin “prosit” (roughly “may it be of help to you”) which does not involve any imaginary beings – only an outdated ideas on how the human body works .

      As it is latin, why not spread it around?

  • Prezombie

    Personally, 1, 4, and 5 are rather silly. Others have already said how it’s equally superstitious, I’ll just say an actually better thing to do is ask if they want a tissue.

    the last two grate with me because I don’t anthropomorphise concepts, thanking them is silly. I thank people, not ideas.

  • jose

    You might be a humanist if…

    You think this world has value by itself.
    You’re interested in people more than mythological characters.
    You like human history better than religious scripture.
    You appreciate hearthly values for life right here rather than heavenly promises.

    And, in the spirit of the picture up there… You say “happy monkey” instead of “merry christmas” :)

  • Dglas Raeat

    You might be a humanist if you think well-being is about here and now, rather than dead and gone.

    You might be a humanist if you hold people as more important than dogma, if you see people as the reason, not as a means to an end.

  • Good and Godless

    You read this card and it made you think.

    • Pseudonym

      It made me think about how far downhill the AHA has gone since 1933, if that’s what you meant.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    They didn’t seem to pick anything that is specific to humanism. I mean, isn’t all of this true for atheists, whether they are humanists or not?

  • Graham turner

     before a meal don’t give thanks to God. Give thanks to the 10,000 generations of ancestors who were smart enough and resilient enough to survive against enormous odds. We are incredibly lucky to be here thanks to them

  • Matthew_F

    You turn to your family and friends and not a book when life gets really tough.

  • Dats3

    If you apply reason to your life and what goes on in the world.

  • Weeliljessi

    I say “Thank Goodness”, because human goodness is the ideal I uphold

  • MariaO

    …if you visit and give flowers to elderly realtives and friends while they are alive instead of at their funeral.

  • http://idahoev.myopenid.com/ Evan Dorn

    I use “Thank Darwin” as praise and “Sweet suffering darwin” as an oath, sometimes.  :-)

    I’ve been trying to think of good scientific blasphemies, because blasphemy is is what gives oaths their power.  But people look at me funny when I curse with “phlogiston!” or “lumineferous ether!” or “cold fusion!” or “perpetual motion machine!”, so I may give up that quest…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    if….. the reason you tick the Christian box on the census is because you think you should, when really the only time you go near a church or prayer book is when an aunt or uncle pops their clogs.


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